Aging is a natural part of life that can't be avoided.
However, the foods you eat can help you age better, both inside and out.
Here are 11 foods that can help you look younger.
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on earth.
Research has shown that it may help prevent many common diseases associated with aging.
Additionally, nearly 73% of olive oil consists of monounsaturated fat, which is associated with increased skin elasticity and firmness (6).
Two studies looked at food records and questionnaires completed by middle-aged and older adults. They found that those with the highest intake of monounsaturated fat from olive oil were least likely to have severe sun damage (7, 8).
Bottom Line: Olive oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties that may protect skin elasticity and decrease the risk of sun damage.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is high in antioxidants, which can protect against free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that form during metabolism and in response to stress. Antioxidants change their structure so they're unable to cause damage.
In one study, women with sun-damaged skin who were treated with green tea cream and supplements for 8 weeks had modest improvements in skin elasticity (15).
Bottom Line: Green tea has strong antioxidant properties that protect your skin's collagen from sun damage and may reduce signs of aging.
3. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is truly an anti-aging food.
Salmon, one of the most popular types of fatty fish, has an additional component that may keep your skin looking younger.
It contains a carotenoid antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is responsible for the pink color of salmon.
In one study, people with sun-damaged skin who were given a combination of astaxanthin and collagen for 12 weeks experienced significant improvements in skin elasticity and hydration (21).
Bottom Line: Fatty fish may provide protection from skin damage that occurs in response to inflammation and sun exposure. The astaxanthin in salmon may also improve skin elasticity and hydration
4. Dark Chocolate/Cocoa
Chocolate contains antioxidants called flavanols, which protect the skin from sun damage. However, the amount of flavanols varies significantly among different types of chocolate (25).
One study showed that high-flavanol dark chocolate doubled the amount of time people could stay in the sun before turning red. This didn't occur in people who ate chocolate with less flavanols (26).
In other studies comparing high-flavanol and low-flavanol cocoa on skin function, people in the high-flavanol groups experienced better blood flow to the skin and improvements in thickness, hydration and smoothness (27, 28).
Remember, the higher the cocoa content, the higher the flavanol content. So make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids.
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate with a high flavanol content may protect against sun damage. It may also improve skin hydration, thickness and smoothness.